Private Organization Accreditation

Debt Education and Certification Foundation (DECAF), a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, provides high-quality financial education and counseling, with nationwide outreach throughout the U.S. DECAF is HUD-approved, and recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas.


Harry Hunter, MSW, MBA, Ph.D.

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Peer Reviewer for the month of January 2013, Dr. Hunter has been volunteering for COA since 2005, conducting five site reviews.
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Adoption Services establish a permanent family for children and youth awaiting adoption, and increase the well-being and functioning of birth parents, adoptive families, and adopted individuals.

AS 1: Adoptive Parent Recruitment

The organization ensures a diverse group of prospective adoptive parents considers the benefits and responsibilities of adoption, and a sufficient number of available adoptive families for children awaiting adoption.

Interpretation: An organization that has responsibility for placing American Indian and Alaska Native children should work closely with tribes to establish eligibility for adoptive parents that are consistent with the norms of the tribe and to identify adoptive homes within the tribal community through joint recruitment efforts.

NA The organization only provides Foster Care to Adoption Services.

NA The organization provides homestudy services only.

NA The organization provides post placement services only.

Rating Indicators
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (HR 6.02) and training (TS 2.03); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • A number of client records are missing important information  or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • One of the Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing; or  
  • Two or more Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
No Self-Study Evidence
    • Website or book with photo listings, if available
    • Documentation of tribal participation in adoptive parent recruitment, when applicable
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel

  • AS 1.01

    Family members, foster parents, former caregivers, and other adults with a connection to the child are considered as prospective adoptive parents or as a resource for the child, and are appropriately involved in the child’s placement.

    NA The organization provides homestudy services only.

  • AS 1.02

    An organization that has responsibility for placing children with special needs makes a proactive, intensive effort to recruit adoptive parents.

    Interpretation: Children with special needs can include: sibling groups, older children, children with health, physical, emotional, behavioral and developmental issues, and children of different racial or ethnic groups.

    NA The organization does not place children with special needs for adoption.

  • FP
    AS 1.03

    Recruitment is conducted in a responsive, respectful, and ethical manner.

    Interpretation: Organizations that use online photo listing services ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to protect confidential information and respect an individual’s right to refuse to have their photo taken for cultural reasons.

    Interpretation: Generally, when board members, employees, or consultants of the organization express interest in becoming adoptive parents, the organization refers them to another provider. If the organization allows board members, employees, or consultants to adopt children through the program, the organization must have a policy and procedures that address the circumstances under which this practice is allowed, conflicts of interest, confidentiality of client and adoptive parent information, evaluation of the adoptive home, and any other risks that have been identified by the organization.

    Research Note: Literature suggests that a prompt response to initial inquiries from prospective adoptive parents can improve recruitment.

  • AS 1.04

    When services are limited to specific types of adoptive families, the organization:

    1. considers its mission, resources, capacity, and contractual and legal obligations, and the needs of children awaiting adoption when developing a policy for such selectivity;
    2. provides information about eligibility criteria to prospective parents; and
    3. refers applicants who are outside the scope of the organization’s services to another provider.

    Research Note: Research suggests that prospective adoptive parents can become discouraged when organizations are not able to provide services and are unable to refer them to a more appropriate provider. Researchers recommend local organizations collaborate to make comprehensive information regarding available services and eligibility criteria readily accessible.

    NA The organization does not limit services to specific types of adoptive families.

  • AS 1.05

    Applicants are treated equitably and are informed about what services will be available and when.

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